It didn't take long for the Candidates tournament to heat up. There were four draws in round 1, but all the decisive results the last two days have really stratified the field. Levon Aronian's score of 2.5/3 will pressure the other players to push a bit harder to keep up, while Boris Gelfand and Vassily Ivanchuk's score of half a point out of 3 leaves them almost out of contention already, even with 11 rounds to go.
Let's review the round 3 action. Aronian won on time with Black against Vassily Ivanchuk. Aronian had been winning on the board with a crushing counter-attack after Ivanchuk's kamikaze handling of a Trompowsky-turned-Torre Attack, but in his opponent's time trouble got sloppy and let him off the hook at the board. From a competitive standpoint it didn't matter much, as Ivanchuk had something ridiculous like 15 seconds to make 17 moves, and that simply wasn't going to happen.
Peter Svidler defeated Teimour Radjabov, going to +1 while sending Radjabov back to 50%. Svidler's preparation on the white side of a Saemisch King's Indian was excellent, and Radjabov's attempt to handle it in a Benko Gambit style didn't give him anything for the pawn. Svidler had a hiccup on move 38 when he didn't play 38.Rc1, but that was just an aesthetic blemish; Svidler still won pretty easily and confidently.
The last game to finish saw Magnus Carlsen grind out a win with the black pieces against Boris Gelfand. A misjudgment at the end of the first time control turned a practically sure draw into something a bit less clear, but only the blunder 47.Qxd8+?? turned it into a loss.
Finally, the one draw was a well-played game between Vladimir Kramnik and Alexander Grischuk. Kramnik prepared well and had Grischuk under serious pressure, but a well-timed pawn sacrifice by the latter gave him enough counterplay to hold the draw. Some commentators felt that Kramnik may have had better chances, and Kramnik didn't rule it out, but it was hard to find something that worked for him. They couldn't in the post-game press conference, and the engines don't reveal anything either, at least nothing obvious. (You can see what I did - or didn't come up with - by replaying this and the other round 3 games here.)
Standings After Round 3:
1. Aronian 2.5
2-3. Carlsen, Svidler 2
4-6 Grischuk, Kramnik, Radjabov 1.5
7-8. Gelfand, Ivanchuk .5
Monday is a rest day, and round 4 will be on Tuesday, with the following pairings:
- Carlsen - Grischuk
- Radjabov - Kramnik
- Aronian - Svidler
- Gelfand - Ivanchuk